In his piece, “Imminent Domain,” ADM Greenert suggests that the EM and Cyber spectrums need now be considered a stand-alone domain of conflict. Respectfully, we’re already there. The electronic environment, wired and unwired, is an obsession for defense planners. In CYBERCOM, the EM-Cyber spectrum practically has its own unified command. The navy’s component of CYBERCOM, the “10th Fleet,” in name harkens back to ADM Greenert’s example of the rise of sub-surface warfare. From the military’s fears over an assassin’s mace style EMP attack to the public’s obsession in movies like Live Free, Die Hard and games like Black Ops 2, the awareness is more than there. While we may have recognized this new environment, ADM Greenert is right in that we have not taken this challenge to heart. If forces are going to operate as if the EM-Cyber spectrum is a domain of warfare, they must act as they would in the physical battlefield on the tactical level, not just the strategic: take cover, stay organized, and interrupt the enemy’s OODA loop.
From The Jaws of Victory
The final battle of Epipole showed the pitfalls of over-reliance on communications and single circuits. During the Athenian siege of Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War, the Syracusans countered the attempt of Athens to wall in the city by building a counter-wall past the projected path of Athenian battlements. The Syracusans had gained a critical blocking position, and Athenian General Demosthenes concocted a plan to dislodge the defenders. Athenian forces found themselves stalled during the daytime battles outside the counter-wall, when their enemies could easily observe and rally against them. General Demosthenes planned a night-time strike on the counter-wall. The well-organized night-time attack completely overwhelmed and nearly destroyed the first garrison. As the alarm was sounded, the Athenians rushed forward before allowing themselves to re-organize and re-identify. When the first real resistance was met, the ensuing disaster is worth citing in full:
Well – all 4-stars are terminal, in a fashion – and when a 4-star is about to head out of the service at the pinnacle of their career, a cynic might look askew at last minute conversions – but I don’t think that is always fair. There can be something else going on when a Admiral or General goes off the reservation; “The Craddock Effect.”
In May 2009 as General Craddock was heading out the door at SHAPE, he gave a speech that said what everyone inside the lifelines knew about NATO and AFG and the story of half-truths we all sold. It was nice to hear in the open what was said behind closed doors – but one had to wonder what the impact might have had if he made the speech a year or so earlier in mid-tour – when he wasn’t a lame duck – when the full truth of his opinion could have informed the public debate … but … it was what it was.
There is a lot be be said for working within the system. Highly successful men and women get to where they are by having a track record of “making it happen” without burning those they work for and with. They often think that once they reach a certain level – then they can make things work. It usually doesn’t work that way.
When they they are running out of time or after soaking long enough that they reach a moment of clarity – often a refreshing wave of candor can come from a senior leader. It is a wave that isn’t quite at odds with what they have said in the open before – but sounds more like the missing chapters of a book half read.
In that light – over at his CFFC blog, Admiral Harvey has a post out that from my perspective is, in a word; remarkable. It is somewhere between a splash of cold water and sobering slap to the face to the professional drift our Navy has been under for a decade+.
This is Admiral Harvey from his blog;
When I look at some of the big issues we’ve encountered over the past three years with programs such as LPD-17, Aegis 7.1.2, VTUAV (Fire Scout), and the many software programs (e.g. R-Admin) installed on our ships, it is apparent to me that we were not doing our jobs with a focus on the end user, our Sailors. In these instances, the desire/need to deliver the program or system became paramount; we did not adhere to our acquisition standards and failed to deliver whole programs built on foundations of technical excellence. Then we accepted these flawed programs into the Fleet without regard to the impact on our Sailors.
Yes, yes – great Neptune’s trident – YES! Sailors are our greatest asset – not our most costly liability.
I would personally add two things – everyone and Admiral Harvey knows this problem is much older than his three years at CFFC – and to change this will take the right people in the right places in power. How do we get them there? Hard question.
His comments are so spot on. Just to drag out the usual suspect; designing manning plans for LCS that has Sailor burn-out considered a feature as opposed to a bug, and is baked in to the design that we will have to deal with for decades? How do you fix that? … but let’s not get in the Admiral’s way here;
… we have entered a period in which the resources we have now and can expect in the future will no longer support the behaviors of the past. The likelihood of decreasing budgets and increasing demand for Naval forces leave us with no margin for delivering poorly designed, poorly delivered or unnecessarily burdensome programs to the Fleet. We must keep the Fleet and our Sailors at the center of the programs, systems and platforms we deliver and ensure operational effectiveness is the bottom line of our efforts, not simply increased efficiencies.
Though my selfish side wishes he put this out years ago, the professional side of me has to give him a nod to a timing that he felt worked best given his responsibilities. More responsibilities do not always translate in to more freedom to speak.
I’ve been a fan of Admiral Harvey’s curious intellect, open mind, and tolerance of other views for a long time, and this is a very welcome addition to the conversation that must be brought to the front – larger, louder, and to more readers.
To fix these problems, the hour is already late, and more delay just means a more difficult fix later.
There is more at his post to to reflect on what is creating the dysfunction we have watched over the last decade in our Navy. Admiral Harvey states the catalyst for his post was the book by Bob Lutz, the Vice Chairman for Product Development at General Motors; Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business. When you think of GM from the last few decades, one car that should be in anyone’s “GM Bottom 5″ would be the Pontiac Fiero. As a smart friend pointed out to me at the linked article;
The Pontiac Fiero an economy commuter car? That’s how GM marketed the sporty coupe, which was Pontiac’s first 2-seater since 1938. GM had originally intended the Fiero to be a sports car (hence, the Ferrari-sounding name), but budget constraints forced them to ditch the original suspension design and steal parts from other GM cars. The result was a sporty coupe that didn’t actually deliver racing performance with a meager 98-hp 2.5-liter I4 engine in a heavy body.
Sure, let’s go there again to what remains the poster child to what Admiral Harvey describes – to the gift that keeps on giving.
Isn’t speed and handling performance are most important for a sports car? Likewise, aren’t offensive and defensive firepower performance the most important for a warship? With the similar failure of basic core competencies – couldn’t one say “GM:Pontiac Fiero” as “USN:LCS?”
Another quote from Admiral Harvey’s post;
… upon his return to GM, Lutz found that the design teams had moved away from an organization focused on product excellence and the end user – the customer – and instead transformed into a company driven by complex business processes, executive boards and working groups focused on eliminating “waste,” “streamlining” operations, and achieving “efficiencies.” As a result, GM produced generations of automobiles that met all the technical and fiscal internal targets yet fell far short of the mark in sales – what really counted.
Does that sound like OPNAV/NAVSEA track record as of late? Designing warships that meet all the technical and fiscal internal targets (except maybe cost, stealth, IOC, etc), but fail to meet the fundamental test of warfighting capability?
Interesting thing about the Fiero – by 1988 they actually go the design right – but by then it was too late and most of the run was – ahem – sub-optimal. Is that where we are going with LCS? The first 43 sub-optimal …. but the last dozen, success!?
Bravo Zulu to Admiral Harvey for putting this out there. Maybe after a few years with the gold watch and reflection, down the road someone might go with a Shoomaker option – I don’t know. In the word of the American songwriter Kris Kristofferson; freedom’s just another word for nothing else to lose.
Admiral Harvey – enjoy your freedom.
Of the many topics discussed by General Cartwright on Day 1 at USNI/AFCEA Joint Warfighter Conference 2012, it was his discussion of the nexus between electronic warfare and cyberwarfare where the General grabbed my attention. This Sydney Freedberg article at AOL Defense captured the discussion briefly in the last paragraph.
“There is a nexus coming between electronic warfare and cyber,” between traditional electronic jamming and countermeasures and new-fangled hacking, Cartwright concluded. “One knocks the door down and the other goes in and does the dirty work.” The current turf wars between the electronic warfare and cybersecurity communities miss the vital point, he said. In the cyber realm, “we’ve been thinking 90 percent defense, 10 percent offense. That’s bass-ackwards for us,” he said: We need to stand ready to seize the electromagnetic offensive.
There are several questions I have been asking myself since General Cartwright spoke yesterday afternoon, chief among them being what exactly does 90% offensive cyber and 10% defensive cyber look like? Does this mean firewalls need to be reconfigured as smart honeypots, ready to go offensive as soon as an intrusion attempt is made from an unknown or unidentified system? How does this work, and is the existing security model for networked systems fundamentally wrong? General Cartwright actually used the example of protecting a computer with anti-virus software as an example of the defense first mentality in cyber, but I am not convinced that’s a good model for his ideas.
First, let me highlight that I truly appreciate General Cartwright challenging assumptions and projecting alternative futures for how cyber will impact the technologically driven military of the United States; indeed in many ways it’s refreshing to hear. With that said I am not certain that everything is as cut and dry as General Cartwright suggests, and one mans defense may be another mans offense when it comes to the cyber domain.
For example, using the same anti-virus software example, is it accurate to say anti-virus is a purely defensive model of cyber activity, or would it be more accurately to highlight the offensive capabilities triggered in response to threats. As a virus exploits a networked system, anti-virus systems are often configured to counterattack the virus immediately, preventing the execution of rogue code and isolating the rogue code towards preventing further damage to a system. The physical world analogy is to run down the bad guy and throw them in jail – which is difficult to describe as a defensive action. This raises the question, why exactly is 90% defensive and 10% offensive the wrong approach? Use of offensive military power is subject to a variety of factors regardless of domain, and given the way the US spends money on nuclear deterrence, self-defense technologies for people and platforms, and other defense capabilities applied in multiple domains (which can be anything from the investments in stealth in a submarine to jamming technologies of various kinds) – it isn’t as if the posture of US military forces is somehow divided by formulas for offensive and defensive capabilities. With that said, there is no question several nations have taken a 90% offensive and 10% defensive posture against the United States (China being one such nation), and perhaps if we were more offensive in cyber ourselves we would likely influence that balance of action for those attacking us.
Where Cartwright starts really making sense on the issue is specific to aperture exposures that will almost certainly be exploited in some way in the future. Again, from AOL Defense:
“We built the F-35 with absolutely no protection for it from a cyber standpoint,” he said. Just as historical aircraft used to have an “EMCON switch” — short for “emissions control” — that could turn off all electronic transmissions from the aircraft when it needed to avoid detection, Cartwright said, today’s aircraft need a switch that shuts off all the electronic apertures through which they can potentially receive transmissions, lest electronically savvy enemies hack into them. “As a guy who spends his life on the offensive side of cyber, every aperture out there is a target,” Cartwright said.
OK, the General is discussing deep cyber theory to a general audience, so this means something different depending upon how much your understanding is on the details. Basically what Cartwright is suggesting is that any radar is an aperture because similar to the way false signals can be fed into radar signals. The theory is an encoded signal can be sent through the data stream to a radar to exploit the integrated system. The problem is the processing isn’t there to do that yet, so there really isn’t any way to defend against it because the capability doesn’t actually exist. The General is rightly applying Moore’s Law here, but is also combining a conclusion that eventually the ability to exploit every aperture will be possible and that is what allows his theory to be promoted – and on Cyber issues the General is certainly credible enough on the issue to be taken seriously.
Indeed this is probably some legitimate fortune telling regarding challenges in 2025 and beyond, and as delays occur with JSF perhaps that is the right platform to highlight as vulnerable. But it’s also futurist and while the discussion is important (particularly in conferences like Joint Warfighter) – it’s theory and difficult to reconcile as a vulnerability that can be planned for at this time. Another real issue with Joint Strike Fighter is that all of that code will make it difficult – thus very expensive – to adapt a defensive posture against such threats in the future. Again, in a military of advanced systems with lots of code in advanced software – this is going to continuously be a challenge until the development cycle of complicated systems can be shortened significantly.
Cartwright is exactly right to forewarn on these issues, because in a sense he is exactly right – apertures are of every kind are issues that must be dealt with in the evolving cyber challenge – and the ability to turn off apertures as receivers is a defensive tripwire that may need to be integrated into future systems. When the US is heading down a networked way of war, turning off apertures is going to make that whole ‘network’ aspect of future war very difficult. A lot to think about, hopefully the video is online soon for others to watch and discuss.
Letter from Congressman Randy Forbes and Congressman Todd Akin to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus dated May 1, 2012.
Dear Secretary Mabus:
In 1981, then-Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, issued a Memorandum on “Ship Counting Methodology” for counting Battle Force ships. Noting the political nature associated with how ships are counted, Lehman believed the Carter Administration “overstated the overall size of the Navy” and that a methodology for ship counting was therefore required to count “those ships which actually contribute to the Navy’s wartime mission of combat and support.”
We revisit this history because we are concerned the Department of the Navy may again choose to alter the rules by which it has abided for the last three decades when counting the total Battle Force size in an effort to exhibit to the public a larger fleet than actually exists. In your February 2012 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee you stated that:
The new FSA (Force Structure Analysis) will consider the types of ships included in the final ship-count based on changes in mission, requirements, deployment status, and capabilities. For example, classes of ships previously not part of the Battle Force such as AFSBs developed to support SOF/non-traditional missions, Patrol Combatant craft forward deployed to areas requiring that capability, and COMFORT Class Hospital Ships deployed to provide humanitarian assistance, an expanded core Navy mission, may be counted as primary mission platforms. Any changes in ship counting Rules will be reported and publicized.
To our knowledge, the Congress has not received notification of a change in the rules. And on April 18, 2012, Undersecretary of the Navy, Robert O. Work, reaffirmed this fact when he said “The 300 ships that we [will] have in 2019 are ships that we count right now.” However, in an interview with Defense News from April 30, 2012, Undersecretary Work also stated that the Navy is “looking at updating (its) counting rules.”
Considering your testimony from February and Undersecretary Work’s statements, we write today to inquire if your office has plans to revisit the methodology it has used for counting the Battle Force since the release of the Febtuary 2006 Navy plan for 313-ships? More specifically, is the Navy still considering counting Patrol Coastal Ships (PC) or Hospital Ships (T-AH) as part of the Battle Force? Given that the Congress is tasked by the Constitution to “provide and maintain a Navy,” we trust that any changes to how the Battle Force is counted will be executed in full consultation with the Legislative Branch so that a mutually agreeable outcome can be achieved.
As always, thank you for your service to the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy, and the Nation.
This letter is posted online in PDF format as part of this AOL Defense article. The May 29, 1981 memo by Secretary Lehman was previously classified, but has since been declassified and is available at this link. If you haven’t seen the memo I encourage you to take a look, because Lehman was specific that the wartime mission of the Navy drove decisions for counting. It is noteworthy that the memo didn’t need much explanation either – in other words the guiding methodology for what was and was not a battle force ship was short, simple, and to the point.
The potential classification of Patrol Coastal Ships (PC) or Hospital Ships (T-AH) as battle force ships is largely seen as a political issue at a time when the Navy is currently having trouble reaching a goal of 300 ships.
For example, what exactly is the point of counting the current Patrol Coastal Ships (PC) as battle force ships? The Navy has never given much thought about the PCs, indeed has never demonstrated until very recently they actually wanted the ships – which is why the US Coast Guard operated several of them for years, and now once the PCs approach end of life the Navy suddenly not only upgrades their weapon capabilities but wants to count PCs as battle force ships? All of the PCs are already between 12-19 years old and their life is only considered to be about 25 years at best – meaning all current PCs are likely to be retired between 2020-2025 anyway. The shipbuilding plan doesn’t include a PC replacement, so other than being able to count ships as part of the battle force for the short term, what exactly is to be gained? Is this only a political issue?
Here is another question… what if the Navy decides to put in a PC replacement? Does counting PCs as battle force ships benefit in any way should a potential PC replacement program pop up?
The Hospital Ships (T-AH) are a different issue entirely. At first my thought was, why not… after all the hospital ships today can serve in a support role for wartime operations, and are used for soft power operations today which are missions that have also been conducted by amphibious ships counted by the rules.
However, the reason I think the Hospital Ships (T-AH) are more problematic is that the hospital ships are specifically used as part of a diplomatic role for the United States, and their missions are executed under concepts rooted in Strategic Communications. Does it undermine the strategic communications aspect of medical diplomacy if the Navy starts counting the hospital ships as part of the “battle force?” All it takes is for one US hating foreign reporter to write a front page article how the Hospital Ships are “battle force ships” according to the US Navy and the STRATCOM of Medical Diplomacy with hospital ships becomes an uphill political climb. If the missions the hospital ships are deployed on have any function in strategic communications on behalf of the United States, it does appear claiming those ships as “battle force ships” would in fact be counter to the purpose of the ships missions in the 21st century, and be counterproductive without any obvious benefit.
I am not sure if the Navy gains by listing the hospital ships as part of the battle force. My sense is there is some loss in strategic communications, but how big or small that loss is depends a lot on how important the Navy considers the strategic communications of the hospital ship missions to be on these medical diplomacy deployments. It may not be a big deal though?
Last week an interview by Chris Cavas of Undersecretary Bob Work that discussed this topic was posted to Navy Times here. It covers the PCs and Hospital Ships, as well as JHSVs and other ships including special mission ships under consideration related to counting rules. Is this simply politics, or is there more to it than politics?
Time will tell.
Maybe it won’t be a great day for you–be careful what you wish for… In recognition of the success that Kony2012 had in rasing money for a niche geopolitical cause, students at MIT created a faux webpage “Kick Starter” pretending to raise money for things on the opposite side of use of force continuum – a mobile black site for intensive interrogations, among other things.
As the last blog I posted demonstrates, the ability for motivated individuals to become active in a conflict exists and is very real. What amounts to DIY intervention can have an impact upon the course of World events (similar to the warning given to us service members from the SECDEF). To me, what this says is that citizens no longer only vote for a foreign policy with their ballots, but they can also–directly–do so with their wallets, time and skill-sets.
The conditions are right, and the historical precedent is now set for the ‘memetic stew’ to bring forth a Non-Governmental Organization as a third option that takes elements from Kony2012, private security firms, and Kiva for those who wish to see some sort of change in the World.
What strikes me as ironic, is that the words typically espoused towards supporting World peace, are now the intellectual foundation under which we may see a new method for hard power applied in the World. This is not to say that the end goals of those who see the utility of hard power is all that different from those who see greater utility in soft power.
Rather, in the long term, I am interested to see if the potential I’ve outlined here coalesces to incorporate both hard and soft power elements. Such a coalescing would amount to a private sector analog to a nation’s foreign policy. Which would, arguably, be the tipping point for the replacement of the Westphalian era, where an organizational paradigm like a government is no longer required to bring together the ends, ways and means to execute foreign policy.
The Navy announced on Feb. 14 that the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) will shift its layberth from Baltimore, Md., to Naval Station (NS) Norfolk to save $1.7 million in the initial year and $2.1 million for following years. Although this is significant savings to help reduce our defense budget, a larger question is, “is keeping hospital ships still worth it?” Eventually the Navy will decide this question but here are a few issues for the Navy to consider:
Does medical diplomacy work? One can argue medical diplomacy improves strategic relations with foreign countries by providing free medical care “to win hearts and minds.” The most visible medical diplomacy is using hospital ships such as the USNS MERCY and the USNS COMFORT. In response to the 2004 Tsunami, USNS MERCY deployed and provided medical care to tsunami victims inIndonesia and other affected areas. A more recent example is the USNS COMFORT deploying toHaiti to help earthquake victims.
In “Let’s have a Fleet of 15 Hospital Ships” LT Jim Dolbow argues the U.S. enjoyed a huge favorable swing in public opinion after MERCY’s 2005 humanitarian mission. According to Terror Free Tomorrow following MERCY’s visit, a remarkable 85 percent of Indonesians and 95 percent of the people of Bangladesh were favorable to MERCY’s mission. Because of such positive response, the United States conducts biannual deployments with its hospital ships for theatre security cooperation missions. Hospital ships support a larger maritime strategy by enabling the Navy’s expanded core competency of “humanitarian assistance and disaster response.”
On the other hand, in “The Decline of America’s Reputation: Why?” it states following the 2004 tsunami, ratings only increased from 15 to 38 percent. There was not a similar rise in Pakistan after U.S. earthquake relief in 2005. This is quite a contrast compared to the Terror Free Tomorrow poll. In 2007, the Pew Research Center wrote “the impact of this humanitarian assistance should not be overstated – most of the same misgivings aboutAmerica seen throughout the Muslim world can be found inIndonesia andPakistan, and solid majorities in both countries continue to have a negative impression of the U.S.”
What are some costs of hospital ship medical care? In “Advancing Humanitarian Aid: Infusing the era of hope with a dash of accountability”, Professor Leslie F. Roberts argues much of the aid has little influence. Roberts notes “between 21 January and 11 March, the [COMFORT] with its 10 surgical theatres served 871 patients. Data presented by a senior USAID official suggested, excluding medical personnel costs, this highly visible relief effort cost >US$30,000 per patient. While this may be typical of the costs for similar surgeries in Western Europe or North America, it is orders of magnitude over expected surgical costs in humanitarian settings, or hospitals in Port-au-Prince.” Per the Daily Caller, “The Navy spent 2 million gallons of fuel treating fewer than 1,000 people – if it’s using marine fuel which is roughly $4 a gallon, that’s $8 million in fuel. That’s roughly $9,184 per patient, just to keep fuel in the tanks.” This seems like a lot of money to spend when theUnited States citizens have difficulty paying their own medical bills.
What if the United States Government got rid of hospital ships? If there were no hospital ships, other countries would not expect theU.S. to deploy one to give out free medical care. Warships can conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Amphibious ships such as the USS BOXER and aircraft carriers such as the USS NIMITZ have robust medical facilities and have superior boat and helicopter transport. Money saved by getting rid of hospital ships can be diverted to improving medical facilities on regular warships already forward deployed around the globe.
Do hospital ships provide benefits that a warship cannot? When the tsunami hit Indonesia in 2004, it took approximately a month for MERCY to arrive in Indonesia. The arrival was too late to treat initial wounds. U.S. Navy ships such as the Abraham Lincoln were already on station within days. In “Developing Soft Power Using Afloat Medical Capability”, CDR Salamander pointed out, “a study conducted by Center for Naval Analyses on host nation impact based on the recent T-AH and LHA/LHD 21 humanitarian assistance deployments reveals that ‘it does not matter whether it was a hospital ship or an amphibious ship as both ships functioned equally well in terms of positive impact to the host nations.’ . . . Speed of response is the most critical element of a successful humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation. The ability to move people, equipment, and supplies throughout the operational area determines whether the operation is a success. Both hospital ship and amphibious ship are the right platforms for humanitarian missions, with the latter having an advantage on disaster response due to speed and global forward presence.”
No matter the results of this decision, the Navy will continue its expanded core competency to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief close to our shores and abroad.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Pugh is a Surface Warfare Officer currently attending Command General Staf fCollege at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He served on USS GEORGE PHILIP (FFG 12), USS NIMITZ (CVN 68), USNS MERCY (T-AH 19), USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20), USS THACH (FFG 12), and USS BOXER (LHD 4). The views expressed in this article are the authors’ alone and do not represent the official position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
Yesterday over at my homeblog, we went over last week’s issue with the USMC’s problem understanding the proper context of what is clearly Nazi iconography. From flags to tattoos (see the NSFW video linked to in comments at the last link if you really need to see it) – there is an issue there.
Our nation has its own rich martial tradition, so why would warriors feel the need to search outside their own heritage – or for that matter outside an honorable heritage elsewhere – for their unit/personal iconography?
At the reactionary, retail level the answer is leadership – that that is only a symptom of a larger problem. What is wrong with our own heritage?
Is the problem ignorance of our own martial history? Perhaps … but that doesn’t explain why individuals and units have no problem finding “strong martial imagery” in a foreign history. What are we doing wrong inside our own historical lifelines that our own iconography is insufficient – could it be that we don’t give it the support it deserves?
I would offer that part of the problem is that we have allowed others to water down our own “red in tooth and claw” history – purging or softening what is the very real nature of this business – we kill people and break things simply because we are ordered to (insert polite conversation version here). There is little margin for error – and a lack of attention to detail or knowledge will quickly lead to the death of yourself and possibly thousands of your Shipmates – and mission failure. Not a Hollywood ending – but one of charred flesh, scattered chunks, and in some warfare specialties – a grey-pink mist.
Yes, this line of work is at its core a rough business.
The phrase “Initial Success or Total Failure” has long served as the unofficial motto of explosive ordnance disposal technicians in the U.S. military.
Until recently, the slogan hung on a wall at the Naval EOD school at Eglin. It was removed after senior EOD leaders decided the words were insensitive.
“It holds some potential insensitivity and implies that our fallen and wounded EOD warriors have somehow failed,” said Joy Samsel, deputy public affairs officer at Naval Education and Training Command in Pensacola. “We don’t want to do that to families.”
Samsel said the EOD school has never had an official motto and has no plans to adopt one.
Rear Adm. Michael Tillotson, commander of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, took issue with the slogan and said that “to imply that failure is an option is unacceptable.”
“Throughout history, many EOD techs from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, other U.S. government and civilian agencies, as well as foreign partners, have lost their lives or been wounded in the line of duty,” he said. “To imply that they failed is insensitive and disrespectful.”
Let me join the many in saying; RADM Tillotson, you’re wrong; in this business everyone does not get a trophy.
“The motto is not about the individual, it is about the mission, and when you are dealing with an explosive device you generally get one shot to render it safe,” Will Pratt, a former Army EOD technician, wrote in an email to the Daily News.
“When you start making changes to an explosive device, you are either going to shut it off or set it off, hence initial success or total failure. This does not mean that the technician is a failure by any stretch of the imagination. ”
Pratt said the military has lots of unofficial mottos and that “Initial Success or Total Failure” is included on the Navy’s EOD memorial in Washington, D.C.
He added that he hopes the Navy won’t allow Tillotson to “destroy a tradition that was there long before him and will be there long after he is gone.”
First Sgt. Joseph Smith of Fort Hood, Texas, said the removal of the motto “is beyond most EOD technicians’ comprehension.” He said he has never heard any complaints about the motto from EOD techs or their families.
Actually – direct clear communication of the binary nature of the EOD business, as the motto is, is actually a signal of great sensitivity to your Sailors’ families – making sure from the beginning Sailors understand the unforgiving nature of their work and so will have a greater likelihood of coming home. It shows great respect for their maturity and professionalism by speaking to them without guile.
How is this being carried out? Well, in an almost Orwellian/Soviet manner. From an email inside the EOD lifelines;
Subject: FW: Visual inspection of all NAVSCOLEOD buildings
Please read the e-mail below. I don’t know the history or driving factors behind this so please don’t ask AND refrain from sending me an e-mail telling me how dumb you think this is. Bottom line is it needs to happen and I need you to make it happen.
DO NOT DELEGATE THIS BELOW THE NCOIC LEVEL.
I need either the Divo or NCOIC to personally inspect all spaces under your cognizance. This includes training areas (e.g. IED huts, BC labs, PT areas, ice house, class plaques, ceiling tiles, etc) and any place that this phrase may possibly reside. If, for example, you find a wall with the phrase, don’t just take a can of spray paint to it. Annotate it and add it to the list of places you found the phrase and we’ll work with facilities to get it painted over to make it look nice.
If/when I find out more about the driving factors I’ll get back to you. If you have legitimate complaints and/or your instructors morale is negatively affected save your concerns until next [redacted] Divo meeting or come and talk with me personally. I need confirmation this has been completed by 1100 Friday 10 Feb.
Of note, this does not apply to personal memorabilia that individuals have on display at their desks or in their PERSONAL work areas.
Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal
So, down the memory hole. Admirals have a lot of power – so it is done.
There are even talking points:
QUOTE: Rear Admiral Michael Tillotson, Commander Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (senior Navy EOD officer)
“As leaders in the EOD community we have a responsibility to support, train and prepare EOD Technicians for an extremely dangerous profession. To imply that failure is an option is unacceptable.”
“Throughout history many EOD techs from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, other U.S. government and civilian agencies, as well as foreign partners have lost their lives or been wounded in the line of duty. To imply that they failed is insensitive and disrespectful. We owe our fallen warriors and their families honor and dignity for their heroic service.”
Initial talking points:
1) “Initial success or total failure” has never been an official motto of Navy EOD.
2) The motto itself holds potential insensitivities and an unintended message insinuating that our fallen and wounded EOD Warriors have somehow failed.
3) It is the Navy EOD’s position to not display this motto within Navy commands.
Give warfighters appropriate and sufficient iconography – or they will find their own.
Robbie Harris and Lieutenant Robert McFall penned a very interesting article in Proceedings this month. The Transformation (Again!) of the Surface Navy is timely and on point, and just as Robbie predicted the Tomahawk would change surface warfare in his 1985 Proceedings article “Is that All There Is?”, Robbie has a new prediction for Surface Warfare in this latest article.
With the new technologies coming online in the near future, such surface assets will continue to be in high demand. Unmanned aerial vehicles already are starting to fly from destroyers. Advanced radars and multi-mission towed arrays are making the surface combatants more capable than ever, but it is the railgun that holds the potential completely to revolutionize the surface fleet. This new weapon will put a piece of lead on target more than 200 miles away. The velocity of the round coming off the ship could top Mach 7. According to retired Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, former Chief of Naval Research, the railgun will be ready to put aboard ships in the next five years. This gun will take the same footprint of the current Mk 45 but since no powder is required for the railgun, the number of rounds that can fit in the magazine is almost tripled. This gun will easily replace the aging Harpoon missile for surface threats, and it will give the Marines on land the surface-fire support they so desperately need.
I know very little beyond the basics of railgun technology, but when Robbie Harris writes something like that about any piece of technology, I feel like I need to do some homework.
The article authors highlight the flexibility of surface forces and hints towards “something else” for the surface force that will sustain the vital role of surface forces in the future. I would argue that “something else” is already here, evident in plain sight, often taken for granted, and for the record – absolutely represents the inherent flexibility of the surface force. It is also slowly eroding just as the Navy needs it most.
Aircraft carriers and submarines are amazing instruments of war, but only the surface combatant force possess the flexibility and capability to forward national interests in all four of the critical 21st century domains: sea power, space power, cyber power, and soft power – and do so both in war and peace. As naval aviation and submarine forces in the Navy evolve towards an unmanned warfighting regime, the surface force still possess an inherent, distributable capability in peacetime operations that can act as a strategic asset in crisis – a vital role as old as naval power itself.
That strategic power manifests itself as manpower.
As the Marine Corps becomes smaller, and build larger ships (meaning fewer total ships capable of being deployed concurrently), it will fall upon the surface sailors to pick up the slack in several critical roles as part of 21st century seapower. These roles will be particularly evident in HA/DR scenarios, but littorals and coastal governance are vital interests to many of our partners, and the US Navy has a role in forwarding global security in cooperation with our partners. While it is absolutely critical to the financial future of the US Navy that ships are designed to operate with smaller manpower requirements, it is just as important that surface forces retain through design excess capacity to support and sustain the maximum number of human beings on a surface combatant of the future as possible. Minimally crewed combatants cannot give up security forces that number a dozen or two dozen sailors during future operations, but in the 21st century the rules of war will likely demand tasking of sailors to other assignments as part of the business of naval warfare – unless someone actually believes sinking 300,000 tons of enemy oil off an ally coast is going to be an acceptable course of action. Not likely.
If I was advising Congress, I would point out that the United States would get considerably more strategic milage by passing a law that forced all new surface combatants to be designed to support the personnel and equipment requirements of a Marine Rifle Platoon than it would forcing the Navy to design surface combatants with nuclear power. No, not the vehicles, the Marines can deliver that heavy equipment for their platoon with another ship – I’m speaking specifically about the manpower and personal equipment with enough supply for a few weeks – and yes this includes any future surface vessel over 3000 tons (including any future LCS Block).
Why? Because in the emerging modular age of surface fleet constitution Navy uniform and civilian leaders discussed at Surface Navy Association, under the single Marine Rifle Platoon requirement, surface combatants would then be organically designed to support the human elements that – instead of a Marine Rifle Platoon – might instead be SOF, Force Recon, Coast Guard elements, civilian specialists, or any number of other maritime professional specialists like CIVMAR.
The authors are absolutely right, there is genuine power in the flexibility of the 21st century surface force of the US Navy, but with the Navy downsizing the capacity to field quality human talent on surface combatants, some of that flexibility is being lost. In 21st century warfare, it is hard to imagine too many naval war scenarios that are absent nuclear weapons where additional human capcity wouldn’t be a necessary requirement at sea during military operations, and the requirements for personnel capacity during peacetime are evident all the time in 5th fleet anti-piracy operations, among many other duties globally.
The US Navy can certainly bomb or torpedo the 300,000 ton oil tanker off the ally coast, but it is my hope the US Navy studies carefully the distinctions frequently discussed in the context of “flexibility” with a 21st century surface combatant vs their modern aircraft/submarine alternatives in future naval war operations. If the Navy really believes they may one day fight a war against China, please tell me our first option for choking logistics to China isn’t sinking supertankers off Vietnam or Indonesia with submarines.
The US can field all kinds of technology without manpower to achieve strategic victory in a violent war, but only human beings are capable of executing the actions necessary to achieve strategic victory in any violent peace governed by modern rules of engagement. In the Navy it is the surface force that historically represents the US faces forward deployed and distributed to overseas places. While the Navy is very wise to build future warships with the smallest practical manpower requirements for operating a warship, the Navy would be equally wise to recognize the surface combatant as the vessel by which professional manpower should be always ready to deploy from. If the Navy takes the capacity to support lots of people on surface combatants away, it is the definition of removing the flexibility that the Navy will absolutely need in a surface combatant force fighting 21st century wars under increasingly restrictive rules of engagement.
The complex nature of 21st century naval warfare begins with the human migration to the sea happening today globally. The oceans are a populated place, and as such is becoming geography with a human terrain that must be accounted for during naval operations. Submarines and aircraft possess no capacity for human engagement at sea, only the surface force has that. If 21st century naval warfare is still a human endeavor, the vital role for surface warfare isn’t going away anytime soon, because surface warfare is the Navy’s primary human interaction capability on the global seas.
Discussions of how the Pentagon can become a better consumer and a more responsible custodian of taxpayer money are – not without cause – a common refrain these days. So it isn’t really surprising when one comes upon yet another bureaucratic or institutional failing within DoD. A conference on Unmanned Systems hosted by the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University immediately began hitting on a series of issues right with the first panel. This was a panel discussion that spent time on a refreshingly short and simple word: reuse:
- Industry has continued to develop platform-specific software packages essentially from the ground-up – and is certainly happy to continue to charge DoD for the favor.
- DoD spends money on the right to use and reuse software and data associated with the systems that it buys. But does it know and understand those rights? Either way, as a matter of practice, it does not exercise them enough and should be.
- Program managers are not incentivized to expend much effort on investigating potential opportunities to reuse software that has already been developed.
- DoD spends money on and completes research and development. But those research and development programs, particularly those with significant classified aspects, have a way of disappearing once they get completed in a file drawer and on a server somewhere. Often there is little more than a place-holder webpage for the initial scope of the program at the outset. Not only are the products of or lessons learned from the programs inaccessible, but their very existence is known far more narrowly than their applicability. As a result, the products and lessons of that research are often not made part of the requirements writing process and later elements of programmatic and acquisition efforts.
While DoD funds cutting-edge technology it has proven to be all too often a lagging or late adaptor of new technology. We’re seeing a lot of powerpoint slides these days with common and open architectures. But how much progress has there really been in this regard? How has the fielding of the Aegis open architecture been going? Have we bought into the right concept and if we have, how are we really doing in terms of implementation?
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